Keeping It Real

This week Margret Vasquez shares how to give our Lifes meaning and purpose by "keeping it real" In the last podcast with Coach Kelly Herrmann, there was something she shared about how she has approached coaching over the years that helped her align her actions with her beliefs.  I was really struck by it, and it has been a gift to me to distill those principles out of the arena of athletics (pun intended) and this is something that applies to all of us regardless of if we are athletes, coaches, parents, students, professionals, single, married, religious sisters, brothers, or clergy.

 

What Coach shared was that she realized she had to do was to develop her philosophy of coaching based on the truth and align her goals with those priorities.  These are steps we can all take to help make our lives more meaningful, purposeful, consistent, and integrated.  Without doing so, we can tend to relegate spiritual things to Sunday or Church.  By being conscious and intentional about establishing our priorities so as to lead to our goals which are consistent with our philosophy founded and grounded in the Truth.

 

In doing this, I really see the most foundational truth of life is the TRUTH – who is the person of Jesus.  Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan philosopher in the 13th century said that Jesus came to manifest the love of God the Father.  He also taught that the greatest thing we can do is to choose to love the good and God is the greatest good.  This being my philosophy lays out the goals 1) receiving God’s love, 2) loving Him as the greatest good, 3) loving what He loves (me and others) and 4) affirming the good.  I’ve found that affirming the good in others, especially when they’re being difficult or challenging is naturally before me because I know in a very thought-out way it aligns with my philosophy and the truth of who God is and who I am in Him.

 

I’ve found this to be a very helpful decision-making tool and helps me keep my behaviors in line with my beliefs.  I challenge you to pray about it and consider doing it.  I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

Christians in the Arena

This week Coach Kelly Herrmann explains that the key to integrating faith in sports is to have a clear philosophy based on truth.

Join me for the final episode in this series with Coach Herrmann and I discuss the role sports can play in character formation!

 

Coach Kelly Herrmann – now a wife, mom, grandma, health coach, author, and speaker was a fixture in sports at Franciscan University of Steubenville for decades.  Having given up a full ride to play division one basketball, she attended FUS and was athletic director, head coach of women’s basketball and volleyball and intramural coordinator.  She has refereed, umpired, announced games, coached little league soccer, run sports summer camps, and mentored other coaches.  She’s a wealth of experience and knowledge and comes from a faithfully Catholic perspective.

Coach explains that the key to integrating faith in sports is to have a clear philosophy based on truth.  Then have clear priorities based on that philosophy.  Coach Kelly shares about a time when Franciscan men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled together.  On the bus the two teams sat separated by the coaches in the middle.  One of her players came to her and asked if they could mix in with the men’s team on the way back from the game for the sake of bonding with the men’s team.  She easily denied the request and was able to explain to her player that bonding with the men’s team wasn’t a priority, whereas study, rest, bonding with her fellow teammates were priorities.  She was able to quickly make a good decision and explain it with a solid basis to the player who was able to accept it.  It wasn’t an arbitrary refusal.  There was a purpose behind it.  Priorities serve the goal and move you in the direction of reaching those goals.  Set and stay faithful to your priorities.

As Christians, evangelizing is always a goal – seeking to witness faith everywhere.  There are situations in sports that force a coach and player to be countercultural.  A few examples are things like controlling one’s temper, language, service in relationships, and modesty.  If you know your priorities, you can easily come to the right decision in such situations regardless of the zeitgeist of the day.

Some practical steps you can implement today are to define your philosophy of play and coaching based on St. John Paul II’s injunction to follow the Divine Master in everything. Based on that, define your priorities, then integrate those priorities throughout your approach to sports.  Finally, don’t be afraid to be countercultural!  BE BOLD!

 

To connect with Coach Kelly Herrmann for speaking engagements, she can be reached at kherrmanniam@outlook.com.

 

The Role of Sports in Christian Character Formation

This week Margret and Coach Kelly Herrmann discuss the role sports can play in character formation!Join me as Coach Herrmann and I discuss the role sports can play in character formation!

 

Coach Kelly Herrmann – now a wife, mom, grandma, health coach, author, and speaker was a fixture in sports at Franciscan University of Steubenville for decades.  Having given up a full ride to play division one basketball, she attended FUS and was athletic director, head coach of women’s basketball and volleyball and intramural coordinator.  She has refereed, umpired, announced games, coached little league soccer, run sports summer camps, and mentored other coaches.  She’s a wealth of experience and knowledge and comes from a faithfully Catholic perspective.

 

I asked Coach:

 

  1. Are there specific character/faith lessons you look to teach through the season?

 

Some of the many character and faith lessons we can easily glean from faithfully coached and approached athletics are hard work, personal investment, dedicated commitment, right/honest/and charitable communication, servanthood, humility, unity, and modesty.  Sports are a microcosm of life and so much can be taught through them because they really test the mettle of which a person is made.

 

  1. Can sports be used for character formation even with children?

 

Because of developmental differences associated with age, the lessons that can be taught are different, but sports are quite useful in character formation – even with children.  Some of the many lessons first learned through sports by children are self-control, how to handle disappointment, delaying gratification and celebrating the giftedness and skills of others.

 

  1. If so, are the lessons different depending on the ages of the athletes – little league, middle school, college, etc.?

 

The many lessons learned through sports are the same in type but differ in degree and can really be of great benefit to athletes of any age, especially when coached from an authentic and consistent faith perspective.  It’s essential that a coach know their own priorities as they coach and use the process of practice and play to reinforce the main priority of our lives – growth into the fullness of who we are called to be in Christ.

 

To connect with Coach Kelly Herrmann for speaking engagements, she can be reached at kherrmanniam@outlook.com.

 

Faith Formation in Athletics

Margret Vasquez shares how focusing on doing rather than being is a trap we can all fall into but keeping the Lord the priority is essential to developing a faithfully Catholic athletic environment. #podcast #christianpodcastMeet Coach Kelly Herrmann – Faith Formation in Athletics

 

Today, I’m joined by Kelly who I’ve known for about 30 years.  She’s coached, refereed, umpired for decades in sports of all types and is now a wife, mother, grandmother, and health coach, author and speaker. Kelly has a passion for forming athletes in faith and spirituality and really integrating the two. She grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan and played basketball in the upstairs of their hay barn through the winter. She was living the student athlete life, doing the scorebook, coaching junior high leagues, announcing games even in high school and was truly involved in every aspect of sports year-round.

 

Kelly gave up a full ride to play division one sports to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville back in the 1980s for the sake of being in a place of faith formation.  She had three older siblings who attended FUS and having visited many times.  She had visited a lot and felt a certain fulfillment at the university in the people, the atmosphere, and the faith culture.  Even though early on she had protested coming to Franciscan, she realized it was the place where she could become more of who the Lord created her to be.  While it was difficult to give up the dream of being a college basketball player, Kelly got deeply involved in intramurals and never regretted making that choice.

 

Focusing on doing rather than being is a trap we can all fall into but keeping the Lord the priority is essential to developing a faithfully Catholic athletic environment.  What is the most important thing? Is winning everything?  No.  What we want to be saying to our kids is “how was your game?”  How did you do?  How did you play?”.  We play to win because the virtue of magnanimity calls us to do our very best! God wants us to strive and do our best, but that doesn’t always result in winning.  The process of day-to-day dedication and growth is the real core.

 

We discuss forming faith through athletics – the topic addressed in a chapter Kelly authored in the book Coach Them Well with St. Mary’s Press.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, commonly referred to as Confession, is a great and powerful occasion for grace and is a beautiful gift of healing that brings about an immediate change. This week Margaret discusses the sacrament with Fr. David, a priest of over 55 years. #podcast #christianpodcastThe Sacrament of Reconciliation, what we as Catholics commonly refer to as Confession, is a great and powerful occasion for grace and yet sometimes we hesitate to go out of fear, shame, and embarrassment.  Margaret discusses the sacrament with Fr. David in his role as a priest of over 55 years.

 

Confession is a beautiful gift of healing that brings about an immediate change.  Because we have an ongoing relationship with the Lord, we have immediate access to healing and forgiveness right away by turning to the Lord in repentance, even before we go to the sacrament of confession.  This sacrament has a bigger dimension to it because we are in relationship with ourselves, the Lord, and others.  Confession is an occasion of personal healing, forgiveness, transformation, and mercy.  It makes amends and restores us to right relationship with ourselves and the community because we don’t just sin against ourselves, but others, as well.  We receive from the Lord through the power of His death and resurrection, healing, mercy, and compassion.

 

Question:  Does the priest think poorly of us when we confess our sins to him?

 

Answer:  Priests go to confession themselves and have to deal with the same human experience of sinfulness, guilt, and shame.  They understand that sense of apprehension.

 

Question:  How is it for you, Fr. David, as a priest?  Do you think those confessing their sins are horrible?

 

Answer:  No.  As priests we are to put people at ease and create a context of mercy.  The priest is not the judge, he is the pastor.  God is the judge, forgiver, and healer.  As priests, we are always to help people get over their fears, and hesitation.  The priest should be able to help you set that aside and open to the healing mercy of God.  If priests don’t do so they are violating who they are as ministers.

 

Question:  What is the seal of confession?

 

Answer:  The priest, under no condition, can reveal what is shared in confession and that is absolute.  He can’t even say anything to that person themselves about what he confessed without getting his permission.

 

Question:  When you see the penitent again do you think about their sins?

 

Answer:  There is often a divine grace of forgetfulness so that priests many times don’t even remember what was told to them.

 

The Importance of Self-Forgiveness

Self-forgiveness is highly important to mental health and spiritual growth. When we see sin as coming from pain, we are able to look at it, acknowledge it, repent of it, and receive the great gift of forgiveness. #podcast #christianpodcastSelf-forgiveness is highly important to mental health and spiritual growth.  If we don’t have it, we can stay stymied and even spiral downwards in our relationships to ourselves, God, and others.  Sometimes, we are hard on ourselves out of fear of failing even worse if we ‘let ourselves off the hook’.  However, it has the opposite effect and leads us away from a healthy and holy future.

Sometimes, people are stuck because of a lack of self-worth.  First, we need to receive the gift of forgiveness from God, our Father.  By receiving that from the Lord, then we need to internalize that stance and the mind of Christ toward ourselves.  Without this, we can stay blocked and stuck in our lives.

Many times, we can be shocked by how we fell. It can seem like we’re trying to hold ourselves to a higher standard, but it’s fundamentally a mindset of pride.  We might be surprised by our behavior, but the Lord who is all-knowing is not surprised.  It can be helpful to recall times of experiencing the Lord’s closeness prior to falling and recognizing that He foreknew that we were going to fail.

At its root unforgiveness toward ourselves changes our mode of operation to one of not being lovable and then we relate to others out of that mode – be it to the Lord, to ourselves, or to others.  We tend to project our own estimation of ourselves onto the Lord and others.  That can really skew our perception of others and put us in an impenetrable fortress of self-hatred.  Rather than achieving the goal of holding ourselves to a higher standard, we can so thoroughly discourage ourselves that we don’t even want to engage with the Lord in a relationship.  It can set us up for failure.  When we open to the grace of the Lord and receive His forgiveness, we can gain spiritual freedom.

In Matthew 7:1 and again Luke 6, the Lord tells us not to judge.  He doesn’t say not to judge others, but not to judge.  Judging is beyond our wisdom and insight.  We don’t understand what makes us tick the way the Lord does and He alone has the ability to do so rightly.  Blessed Julian of Norwich said, “God sees sin as pain in us.”  When we see sin as coming from pain, we are able to look at it, acknowledge it, repent of it, and receive the great gift of forgiveness.

 

 

 

Prayers versus Prayer

Most people don’t receive formation in prayer.  We don’t get taught how to pray and so it can be difficult to pray unless it is a structured activity.  So, we can tend to look to fill the time with formal prayers and journaling.  What is the difference between prayers and prayer?Most people don’t receive formation in prayer.  We don’t get taught how to pray and so it can be difficult to pray unless it is a structured activity.  So, we can tend to look to fill the time with formal prayers and journaling.  What is the difference between prayers and prayer?

Prayer isn’t just ‘caught’ it needs to be ‘taught’.  Prayer is based on the Lord’s grace and so it is a gift.  People can have a difficulty with a prayer time because we’re used to projects and don’t know how to sit still.  We can default to prayers someone else made.  Prayer is our relationship with the Lord and communicating heart to Heart with Him.

How do we do that?  A good place to start is simply being available to the Lord.  We don’t have to generate holy feelings or thoughts.  Simply being present to He who is present to us.  Being available means being ready and not preoccupied with other things.  It’s simply holding space for the Lord.

From there, we surrender our ideas and agendas, understanding the Lord wants prayer more than we do because He longs for relationship with us.  What does surrender mean?  It’s giving up our plans and our preconceived ideas of what needs to happen. He is the initiator and is all-wise and all-loving.

In His presence, we converse with Him which entails sharing with Him and listening to Him.  He can speak to our hearts by bringing certain thoughts and senses to us.  He is alive and well and is a good communicator!  We can ask Him for what He wants us to know and to lead us.  This communion leads us to union with Him.

Practically, that can look like using the Scripture or spiritual reading as jumping off points if we stop at the points where we find our spirit particularly touched and open ourselves to more of His work of grace in those areas.

So, we start by being available to the Lord, surrendering our agendas, and then moving from the words of prayers into being attentive to grace when our hearts are moved by particular notions, concepts, and images.

Ephesians 3:14 and following.

 

 

 

Conversion 2.0: God in My Life vs Me in God’s Life

Fr. David shares about how he experienced the Lord telling him he was running his own life and asked him to let the Lord Himself run his life.Romans 14:7 says that we don’t live or die for ourselves, whether we live or die we are the Lord’s.  The Scriptures dismantle the illusion that life is our own.  The language can be used, “have you accepted God into your life” and yet it isn’t my life.  When we zoom out and really look at the whole person, we realize this is God’s life we participate in.  He is the initiator and orchestrator.  Keeping in mind that this life is the Lord’s gives us the proper perspective.

We can come up with our own plans and ask the Lord to bless them or we can submit ourselves to Him surrendering to His activity within us and His leading.  When we are baptized in Him, we are baptized into His life.  This is all a process of deeper conversion and transformation.  Fundamentally, we can seek a position of control, or surrender to the Lord’s omnipotence and give ourselves over to His will.

Fr. David shares about how he experienced the Lord telling him he was running his own life and asked him to let the Lord Himself run his life.  The repentance and conversion thus led Fr. David to drastically changed his life.

When we realize this is really the Lord’s life in which we participate it really calls us on beyond not doing the things on the naughty list to an ever-deeper experience of surrender.  In this way, we radically realize there is always more of God, deeper union into which we are called, and we no longer have the tendency to evaluate ourselves as better than our neighbor because we aren’t drinking, having illicit relationships, acting out of anger, and the like.  Rather, we are continually called on to continual growth in intimacy with the Lord.  This keeps life fresh because there is always more and He makes all things new.

Living as though the Lord is in our lives rather than us in His life, we can tend to compartmentalize spirituality.  Recognizing that we are in God’s life disposes us to incarnate Him to the world.

Journey From the False Self to the True Self

How do we make that journey?  It’s a process of grace and coming to understand more and more who God is and what He asks of us.The true self is who we really are – made in the image and likeness of God as His sons and daughters.  We’re in this place when we’re calm, compassionate and confident.  The true self responds out of love and is immutable.  The false self, by contrast responds from a place of fear.  In many places the Scriptures talk about putting off the old man and putting on the new man.  The false self is the old man, and the true self is the new man.

How do we do that?  How do we make that journey?  It’s a process of grace and coming to understand more and more who God is and what He asks of us.  We come to realize how powerless we are.  How we relate to our powerlessness is a process of conversion in relationship to God, ourselves, and others.  By receiving from the Lord and relating to ourselves as He does, we grow in our ability to reach out to others in compassion.  It’s a wonderful and challenging process.

Experiencing powerlessness is the moment of testing where we make the choice to respond in a sinful way or in a courageous way.  Powerlessness is scary and we can either be sent on a negative cycle toward disconnection or a positive cycle toward intimacy with the Lord.  When we see that there’s a positive direction we can move, it can really be a game changer that turns the painful bitterness to sweetness.  The same way sugar is the enemy when we’re on a diet, fear is the enemy in the spiritual life.  How do we handle the fear?

Powerlessness can lead us to pride, self-reliance, an eventual sense of inadequacy (because we aren’t all powerful), and shame which then leads to isolation and disconnection and an even deeper sense of powerlessness.  Conversely, when we encounter powerlessness, we can respond out of humility, relying on God because He is all-good, omnipotent and He is FOR US.  This then leads to a change in our heart giving us hearts of gratitude, love and trust in the Lord, and a sense of intimacy with Him.

Suffering and Healing

God intends great things for our lives, but when we look at our personal sufferings, that can be hard to hold onto.  What are we to do with suffering when we don’t experience healing? God intends great things for our lives, but when we look at our personal sufferings, that can be hard to hold onto.  What are we to do with suffering when we don’t experience healing?  There can even be a misconception that there is a certain point in time at which I am finished with my healing journey or that there are people who don’t experience suffering.  Neither of these are true.  We all go through sufferings to one degree or another in this life and healing is an ongoing process.

Since suffering is an ongoing process, healing ought to be, as well.  The Lord’s mercies are renewed each day and He always has greater freedom, joy, and peace for us.  They can be a regular part of our daily prayer times.  If we normalize the concept of suffering, we can be alleviated of the pressure and burden that we aren’t good enough if we still have areas of woundedness.

Life is a process and there’s always something that is going to come forward where the Lord wants to bring us into greater wholeness and deeper relationship with Himself.  Healing is certainly a good thing and something to be open to and seek.  However, there is time.  Life is a process.  The Lord is ever present to us and can even surprise us with healing.  If the Lord is permitting us to suffer, it can be a great challenge for us to trust in God’s love and goodness, but we know that He is all good, all loving, and all wise.

As Catholics, we are privileged to have access to the Lord in His Real Presence.  We don’t have to wait for a healing Mass because every Mass is a healing Mass.  We don’t have to fear pain and suffering when they come, and the Lord hasn’t yet healed it because He is working an even greater healing in us in the waiting.  We don’t suffer alone.  When we unite our sufferings to the Lord’s and suffer them with Him knowing He is suffering them with us, they become an occasion for intimacy.  This is the notion of atonement.  At-one-ment…being at one with Jesus.

What the Lord Taught Me When I Lived with a Serial Killer

In 1997, I ended up in a roommate situation that turned out to be one of the most dramatic experiences of my life, but the Lord actually used it to teach me tremendous lessons about His wisdom, goodness, power, provision, and desire to be intimately involved in the details of our lives.  In 1997, I ended up in a roommate situation that turned out to be one of the most dramatic experiences of my life, but the Lord actually used it to teach me tremendous lessons about His wisdom, goodness, power, provision, and desire to be intimately involved in the details of our lives.

I was living in Tampa, FL and with little resources needed to find an inexpensive housing option.  I responded to a classified add where two people were looking for a third roommate.  Shortly after moving in, one of them relocated because of business and we needed another roommate.  The man who moved in turned out to have a long history of violent crimes against women and began murdering women he did not know.

Without any knowledge of his past, the Holy Spirit enlightened me as to the danger I was in and led me, despite my reluctant cooperation, to the information by which we were able to undo his alibi and get a murderer off the streets.  The Lord is certainly able to do anything and uses us in His plan when we cooperate with His grace and direction.

Many years later, the Lord asked me to offer Mass for the same person’s conversion and he confessed to one of the murders he had denied for 25 years.  Finally, that victim’s family was able to gain closure and did not have to withstand a retrial when Florida law changed that called the sentencing into question.

God’s goodness knows no bounds, his power knows no limits, and His desire for the conversion of every single one of us reveals the depth of His love and relentless commitment to us no matter what we’ve done.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Margaret and Fr. David discuss The Context of Holiness by Fr. Marc Foley, OCD as he examined human and spiritual integration in the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Margaret and Fr. David discuss The Context of Holiness by Fr. Marc Foley, OCD as he examined human and spiritual integration in the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.  Her motto of doing little things with great love leaves us a wonderful example of bringing spiritual principles to life.

She experienced a great number of sufferings thru her childhood that became places of insecurity that she overcame thru choosing to make the heroic choices.  She deepened in her sense of security through her identity in the Lord.  This gave her great growth in maturity and bore pure fruit of love, even as she was suffering tremendously with tuberculosis.

Erik Erikson talks about stages of psycho-social development and how we can become stuck at earlier stages when there is wounding that happens.  Yet, her devout life afforded her another parent – God the Father – who she could draw strength from when her earthly parents failed in different ways.  This gives each of us great hope since none of us (other than Jesus) has had perfect parents.  We can follow her example, too.  Our identity is informed by who we are in the Lord.  As we become conformed to this who we are becomes reformed.

Through making choices to exercise great love, she received healing and excelled as novice mistress and in heroic charity that led to her being a saint and doctor of the Church.  She integrated her piety and the principles of our faith in her daily life and relationships. Thérèse chose the gifts of Divine Love and manifest that to her sisters in how she dealt with even the most difficult members of her community.

The Way of Imperfection by André Daigneault is a wonderful little paperback book that fleshes out some core concepts of Thérèse’s ‘little way’.  This fantastic work can plug us into some great helps in becoming conduits of the Lord’s grace.

Baptism in Fire!

Margaret Vasquez, LPCC and Fr. David Tickerhoof, TOR discuss the notion of the baptism in fire that was foretold by St. John the Baptist. Margaret Vasquez, LPCC and Fr. David Tickerhoof, TOR discuss the notion of the baptism in fire that was foretold by St. John the Baptist.

 

There were graces of renewal flowing from Vatican Council II that brought a deepening of life, power, spiritual gifts, and in particular intimacy of relationship with the Trinity.  This is known as the charismatic renewal or baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Today, we see a resurgence of renewal from the Encounter movement out of Brighton, Michigan.  There is a focus on understanding and practicing the spiritual gifts flowing from the relationship with the Lord.

 

There’s another dimension known as the baptism in fire (Mt 3:11-12) John the Baptist spoke of when he said the Lord would baptize us in the Holy Spirit and fire.  What is that fire?  In Scripture fire represents the Lord’s presence, purification, and sometimes punishment.  In particular, fire seems to represent power.  That fire becomes transforming power!  We ought not to ignore, but instead be aware of it, open to, and pray for that deeper transformation.

 

Margaret shares her story of being prayed with for the baptism in fire and how astounding that grace was and was so other than anything she had ever experienced.  The power of God’s love took away every fear, even the fear of death and kept Margaret tethered to the lordship of Jesus even in years of wandering and brokenness where she ended up questioning her faith.

 

The revelations St. Catherine of Genoa received regarding purgatory essentially saw what is at times consolation, sometimes suffering, even the purifying fires of purgatory to be one fire – the fire of His love!  That can ground us, fill us with gratitude, and help us remember that the Lord is always loving us through whatever He allows in our lives, even if it seems very difficult at the time.

Applying the Principles of Human and Spiritual Integration

As we develop in these areas we grow in both human and spiritual maturity.  These principles help us to focus on being rather than doing.Peace, freedom, and joy are available to us in this life when we live the principles of chosen, known, valued, boundaries and openness in our relationships with the Lord, ourselves, and others!

 

The Lord has chosen each one of us personally, knows us intimately, values us completely, and protects and provides for us.  We are likewise called to respond to Him by choosing Him, growing in union with Him, valuing Him for who He is, and receiving His boundaries as gift!  These becoming guiding principles for our lives to lead us toward the abundance He has for us.

As we develop in these areas we grow in both human and spiritual maturity.  These principles help us to focus on being rather than doing.  We can focus on how we are being and, in that way, prevent so many problems.  When we get the being right, the doing takes care of itself.

 

We are called to make a conscious and intentional choice to take on the mind of Christ.  He is the epitome of love and compassion and it’s essential that we imitate Him in how He sees us.  By collaborating with Him we preserve the gift of peace that was His first gift to us.  We can examine our consciences by these same principles.  Our life of communion with the Lord manifests itself in our relationships.  The connection with the Lord leads to connection with others if we are connected to ourselves.  Focusing on the Lord’s deep love for us changes everything!  It is the power for transformation for our lives.

 

The Lord has intimately connected how we treat our neighbor with our love for Him.  So, charity is the hallmark virtue that puts it all together.  St. Thérèse of Lisieux lived this in her own life by the deep life of charity she lived even while she was so young and suffering terribly from the symptoms of tuberculosis.

 

Challenge:  As you read the Mass readings, look to see how the readings fall into the categories of being chosen, known, valued, and/or boundaries.  All of Scripture is about relationship and so you’ll see these themes throughout all of Scripture.

 

Charity Toward Others and Healthy Relating

Compassion, mercy, and forgiveness are essential for healthy relationships.  We become the hands and feet of the Lord by relating to others the way He relates to us. Compassion, mercy, and forgiveness are essential for healthy relationships.  We have to start from receiving the compassion of the Lord and in order to really do so I have to be compassionate toward myself.  If not, I’ll just deflect the Lord’s love.  That’s not selfish or narcissistic.  It’s taking on the mind of Christ who is compassion itself!  It’s authenticity and honesty, but fully embracing His stance of compassion toward ourselves.

We can learn to express compassion in our daily interactions.  It doesn’t need to be complex or complicated.  It just requires really acknowledging the other person by paying attention to them as individuals and giving those extra couple of seconds to treat them as humans with dignity for even a moment or two.  These things are very evangelistic or ‘pre-evangelistic’.

When we start from such a place, we’ll see the profoundly healing effects in what would otherwise be complicated circumstances.  To operate out of compassion for others we need to have the freedom that comes from not operating out of our own concern for ourselves because our needs have first been satisfied to overflowing by the Lord.

Understanding the principles we all need to have – being valued as individuals, known as good, and our boundaries respected – we can operate very fluidly and confidently.  We start without fear because we understand what is needed and so we don’t have inordinate fear. Changing how we relate to ourselves changes our mode of operation to one of compassion that naturally overflows.  In this way, the Lord’s love can flow not just into us, but through us.  We become the hands and feet of the Lord by relating to others the way He relates to us.

All of this is a process!  It’s a beautiful, life-giving flow of receiving His love, internalizing that and relating to myself with greater compassion and then allowing that to flow out to those I meet each day.  We are able to relate out of love rather than fear.

Personal Integration and Charity Toward Others

It’s essential for lives of wholeness and holiness that we grow in communion with the Lord, personal integration, and charity toward others.  We like to encapsulate all these concepts with the simple term ‘connection’.  The principles are the same in all of these relationships, being chosen, known, valued, protected and provided for.

 

Today’s conversation focuses on peace, freedom, and grIt’s essential for lives of wholeness and holiness that we grow in communion with the Lord, personal integration, and charity toward others.eat relationships particularly through personal integration and charity toward others.  This is particularly done through having mercy toward ourselves and toward others, which has been a continual theme of the last few popes.  It’s really essential to our holiness and well-being.

 

Ironically, we need to make sure we are charitable toward ourselves before we can have the charity to extend toward others.  We can tend to skip over this concept, falsely viewing it as selfish, but it’s Scriptural.  “Love your neighbor as yourself”(Mark 12:31).  That becomes our mode of operation.  If we have a mode of charity and love, that is the mode through which we relate to the Lord and by which we reach out to others.

 

Charity toward ourselves requires us to be patient and intentional in our relationship to ourselves.  We need to intentionally choose to relate to ourselves from the basis that we are ‘very good’ based on our dignity as children of God.  This allows us the sense of safety by which to operate out of a deep sense of safety and peace.  It sets us in a place of being able to really conceive that the Lord loves us deeply and then to be able to truly receive His love.  Relating to ourselves out of a contrary attitude sets us up to be lied to by the evil one and to fall into discouragement.  Self-talk is so crucial because it reveals those attitudes we have toward ourselves.  We need to respect our own boundaries in our self-talk, not overextending ourselves, running ourselves ragged, and stressing ourselves out beyond what is healthy.

 

Boundary setting with others is important because it helps to establish rules of engagement so we can give each other the opportunity to love and respect each other.  They are a gift by which we can work towards common ground for relating in freedom and mutual respect for each other’s needs.  They can free us up and help us avoid undue and unspoken expectations, resentment, and conflict.  Peaceful and healthy relating doesn’t have to be complicated.

 

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The Importance of Human and Spiritual Integration

Wholeness and Holiness Podcast: The Importance of Human and Spiritual IntegrationEpisode #4 – The Importance of Human and Spiritual Integration

As Christians we can tend to over spiritualize, and secular society tends to under spiritualize.

We need a paradigm by which to understand how to build a firm foundation that includes both human and spiritual maturity.

A healthy human maturity helps us break down and apply the spiritual information we take in.  It helps us be refreshed by the Living Waters of the Lord and allows them to flow out of our lives in a way where they become part of who we are and how we live in relationship to others.  To the truths of our faith, we ought to ask, “What does this have to do with me and how does it apply in my life?”  We are called to let them pierce our hearts, renew our minds, and get applied in our lives.

We can see the pillars of wholeness and holiness in ‘connection’, that is: communion with the Lord, personal integration, and charity and compassion toward others.  There are common principles across each of these relationships – chosen, known, valued, boundaries, and openness is a byproduct of those factors.

Oftentimes our relationship to ourselves gets overlooked and yet it’s really the hinge point.  We need to really receive the infinite love of the Lord and imitate that love in how we relate to ourselves because that same mode of relating becomes how we relate to our neighbor, as Scripture tells us to love our neighbor the way we love ourselves (Mk 12:31).  We operate out of fear when we lack a healthy sense of connection, and we operate out of love when we have that healthy connection.

The fruit of knowing we are chosen by the Lord is a sense of belonging, being known perfectly by Him provides us with the most profound intimacy, being established in the fact that our value is inherent in our dignity as children of God we have the fruit of humility, the Lord’s boundaries (His protection and provision for us) bears the fruit of gratitude, and the openness that is a byproduct of those four principles leads to the fruit of authenticity.

CLICK HERE to download the notes for this podcast

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging into the Biology of Trauma

Continuing in our understanding of the biology of trauma, trauma is anything that overwhelms the person’s normal ability to cope. Continuing in our understanding of the biology of trauma, trauma is anything that overwhelms the person’s normal ability to cope.  Inherent in that definition is the fact that you and I are different people with different pasts and perspectives.  I might be traumatized by a situation that you may not feel strongly effected by.  That doesn’t make one of us right and the other wrong.  It’s actually due to a variety of factors having to do with what we perceive as threat.

When we are traumatized, the brain can encode any of the sensory stimuli (sights, sounds, smells, emotions, even our own body sensations) as signs of life-or-death threat because it associates those experiences with the trauma in which we felt so significantly in danger.  Sometimes we are aware of those associations when they are reexperienced, but we may very well be unaware of them because the limbic system (the emotional center of the brain) sits deep inside the brain and right on top of the brain stem.  The same way we are unaware of our respiration, digestion, heartbeat and the like we can be just as unaware of our emotions turning from joyous to anger due to encountering a reminder of a past trauma.  When this happens, we can respond with a vehemence and intensity that disturbs even ourselves and, if this happens often, can leave us feeling broken, vulnerable and very different from others.

With this background, we can see that we are not our emotions, rather we have emotions.  Therefore, we can respond to our emotions rather than responding out of emotions because emotions are information.  So, we can take that information into account and yet we aren’t bound to respond as though it is Gospel truth.   Rather, we can account for the fact that it may be skewed.  We have emotions.  We are not our emotions.  They are important information, but only one source of information.  We can prudently pay attention to the information and take into account other information, as well.  The greatest information we have is that we are dearly beloved children of the Omnipotent, Omniscient, All-Loving God who is madly and passionately in love with us personally.  No matter what others have done to us and no matter what we have done He will us it – Scripture tells us He uses “ALL THINGS” for our good.

May the Lord give YOU peace!

 

Key words:  trauma, information, misinformation, emotions, limbic system

 

Introduction to Trauma Series: Avoiding Spiritual Identity Theft

Introduction to Trauma Series: Avoiding Spiritual Identity TheftEpisode #2 – Introduction to Trauma Series (Avoiding Spiritual Identity Theft!)

Have you or someone you love endured sufferings in which you continue to feel stuck?  Does this leave you feeling confused or even fearful, perhaps even rejected or abandoned by God?  Unfortunately, there are so many types of trauma and such experiences are so prevalent that it’s difficult to imagine someone who hasn’t been traumatized at one time or another.

 

Have you ever been told or thought that if you only had greater faith you’d be able to overcome feelings of abandonment, rejection or insecurity?  In this series Margaret will help unpack how the neurophysiology of trauma can leave us trapped in the emotions from traumatic experiences regardless of how great our faith is.  Come to a deeper understanding of what happens in the person during traumatic experiences and deepen in your sense of God’s love.  Grow in compassion for yourself and others.

 

Due to a very specific biological reaction during trauma, even decades later we can default to a mode of fear leading to cortisol (a stress hormone) and shutting off oxytocin (a feel-good hormone associated with love, trust, and friendship) when we encounter reminders of those traumatic experiences.  Knowing the body responds in this way can help us to cling to the truth and not give into a skewed perspective that is fear-based.

 

The evil one wants to divide you off within yourself, disconnect you off from others, and even give you a sense of separation from God by spiritual identity theft!  He wants you to think that your symptoms of feeling fearful and rejected are really who you are.  The truth is they aren’t who you are.  They are only how you are doing in a moment.  Understanding where those feelings come from can help unmask the lies we can take on and operate out of and even more it can help us stay grounded in the truth of our identity as God’s beloved children!

 

My first book, More Than Words:  The Freedom to Thrive After Trauma, is available on Amazon.com and will provide you with more information about how traumatic experiences can impact us even decades later.

 

 

What is Wholeness and Holiness Podcast?

What is Wholeness and Holiness Podcast?Episode #1 – What is Wholeness and Holiness Podcast?

Have you ever wondered how our natural human lives and the spiritual life are connected?  Would you believe that the study of psychology and counseling can actually serve to illuminate and deepen our relationship with the Lord?  It’s true!  He made us in such a way that our human and spiritual lives are intertwined.  The more we live lives of human and spiritual integration the more we will deepen in the sense of peace and fulfillment He has for us.

In this podcast, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Certified Trauma Therapist Margaret Vasquez shares with you many of the insights she has gained through over 16 years of providing intensive trauma therapy to clients of all ages and seeing the world through the lens of her degree in Theology.  Author, TV and radio guest, trainer and retreat master, Margaret is passionate about bringing people to a deeper participation in the intimacy the Lord has for them.

Tune in weekly for a greater understanding of the spiritual life, religion, Church, and what it all has to do with giving your everyday life greater peace, joy, and purpose.